Tuesday, March 8, 2016

What is it about hair?

Is it only a girl thing? I don’t think so. Why are we so obsessed with our hair? All of you who grew up with the hair of the moment—shiny, straight, swingy, perfect, wow, were you lucky.
Not me. I grew up in the fifties. Can you imagine what it was like to have curls in the fifties? Brains didn’t trump curls.  We ironed, we pulled, we straightened, we lost sleep, we suffered. And to top it all off, my hair was the color of mud.
When one of my mother’s friends accosted her in the supermarket when I was in high school, indignantly asking her if she saw what her daughter had done to her hair, she responded,” I did it for her.” Life did change a bit after mud changed to yellow, but the curls still won the war every day.
My mother did have her idiosyncrasies—she made me clean her damned ashtrays, but, the good part was that I never did smoke. When Liz, my middle child, was very small, I remember her saying “Nanny, you’re going to die tomorrow.” But my mother encouraged my love of the theater—we skipped school on Wednesday afternoons to sneak into NYC for matinees. Sorry, Miami, you’ll never measure up.
Growing up in our somewhat out of synch house was fun. My father taught us to be color blind. We never knew what color our dinner guests would be. I’m not sure my mother was as accepting as he was, but I sure do wish he were still alive to experience our first black President—finally. If the circle could be completed this year with our first woman in the White House, even my mother would be contented.
But what is it about hair? Life does come full circle. I meet people at meetings and they swear they already know me. No, I try to explain, it’s not me they recognize, it’s the hair. Most of them have seen pictures on Facebook or Twitter or my websites and all they see is the hair.
People ask me over and over what I do to mine. First, believe it or not, I do it all myself. When my husband looks askance at yet another Coach bag or pair of shoes, I try to calculate for him the amount of money I’ve saved by doing my own hair—cutting, coloring, conditioning—for the last 40 years. He still gives me ugly looks, but I feel better.
Stop reading this now if you don’t care about maintaining curly yellow hair.
Wanna hear the recipes for maintaining curly hair? Some of it is thanks to my go to book, Curly Girl by Lorraine Massey. You may not want to believe it, but shampoo should never touch curly hair. We curly girls call it “no poo.” Shampoo is too strong, too harsh. Even baby shampoo is too harsh. You’d probably be better off with shampoo that’s safe for your dog, but, you really don’t need shampoo. I wash my hair with conditioner, any kind that’s safe for colored hair. I use huge handfuls of it, and then I don’t even rinse it out. No my hair doesn’t smell, it’s not dirty, it’s not oily, and, best of all, it’s not frizzy. Every six months or so, if I decide to frost my hair, I have to use shampoo to wash the frosting out, but that’s the only time
Now to the color, and this is my own recipe. Permanent hair color is too strong for curly hair. Semi-permanent does nothing, but demi-permanent is a good compromise. BUT…the demi-permanent calls for 10 volume peroxide, not strong enough to touch my almost totally grey hair. So I use 20 volume peroxide, an off label use, a no no in everyone’s book, but it works. I use it as if it were permanent color, only on the roots, then use gobs of conditioner on the rest of it, cover it with a shower cap, leave it for 45 minutes, and am left with perfectly-colored yellow hair in really good condition.
So there you have it. Advice from Peter Pan. I’ll never look or act my age. I’ll never have grey hair or, perish the thought, I’ll never look like some of my contemporaries who sport beautifully coiffed “blue” hair and would never wear a motorcycle helmet or ride in a convertible with us. I apologize to my Facebook friends for boring you with my recently changing profile pictures, but I’ve been at the scissors again and every time I cut more, the look changes. I might as well use a picture that renders me somewhat recognizable.

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